When it comes to our students, our ultimate goal is to give them the absolute best for their education. Which is why it was a no-brainer to hire the very talented Chef Michael Reyes to join our staff when the opportunity arose. Not only is he an established chef and excellent educator, he’s also a former professional and Olympic baseball coach, donut lover and all around Renassiance man. He even got to cook for the celebrity chef that inspired him to pursue the culinary arts—Emeril Lagasse.
Chef Michael took some time to talk with us about how he got his start in the culinary field, what his favorite part of being an online culinary school educator is and what his favorite restaurant in the entire world is.
Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts: What is your background in the culinary arts?
Chef Michael Reyes: In my culinary career, I have worked in hotels, central commissaries, restaurants, catering and the corporate sector. Sounds like a lot but not really, management is management…the widgets are the only thing that changes.
AESCA: What has been your favorite job so far?
MR: My favorite job is a tough question…I loved them all. The better question involves time. My favorite time in all my jobs is the first and last days. The stuff in between is just life. The first day is awesome because it is new—people, location and the excitement. The last day is cool too because you can look back at the job you have done, plus what you have learned. Then you are off to the new experience.
AESCA: Why did you want to get into the culinary or pastry field?
MR: I coached professional and Olympic baseball before I started culinary. I worked countless hours and didn’t have much time off but I loved it. I never felt like I was at “work.” I went into culinary for the same reason. I didn’t want to “work” a day in my life.
AESCA: What do you love most about being an educator with Escoffier Online?
MR: I love being able to reach out and help someone follow his or her dreams. Being online, our reach is further and not just the big cities but the rural areas of the world. It’s pretty awesome!
AESCA: What is the one ingredient you always have to have in your kitchen?
MR: This is easy but it is a tie—Jacobsen Sea Salt and California Olive Ranch Olive Oil.
AESCA: What do you think online culinary education can offer students around the world?
MR: In one word—access. Students have access to education where none may be found. How amazing is that?!
AESCA: What was your biggest culinary dish triumph?
MR: I don’t know if I can call it a triumph but I cooked for the person that got me into the culinary arts—Emeril Lagasse. Emeril was the Grand Marshal of the New Year’s Day Rose Parade. For a few years, I was the chef for the Rose Parade Grand Marshals and the Rose Queens and their court. It was pretty huge.
AESCA: What is your favorite restaurant in the world and why?
MR: Blue Star Donuts in Portland, Oregon. Donuts. Need I say more?
AESCA: You own your own business, tell us a little about what that’s like, why you started it and what you find it rewarding?
MR: Tax right-offs. No really, tax right-offs. I was doing a lot of catering, which can be lucrative in the right demographic. I enjoyed working a few days a week and the rest of the week I was playing golf. Mind you, I still had a corporate job but I was out by 2pm. I know I shouldn’t say things like this but it was true. Most catered events are Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays. Do the math…oh, and tax right-offs.
AESCA: What are your top 3 favorite ingredients to cook with right now?
MR: I would not say favorite but these are the top three that I have been playing with recently—tapioca flour, quinoa flour and nut butters.
AESCA: We usually all have one! Is there a food you hate?
MR: I hate vanilla pudding…traumatized as a kid. I cant discuss it…too painful…where are my meds?!?!?!?!
AESCA: Any words of advice for people thinking about getting into the culinary arts?
MR: There is a lot of opportunity. Find your niche. People may not believe in you but that doesn’t matter. Do you believe in yourself? Make it happen!